Real very much in title race, warns Barca coach

AFP| Updated: Mar 28, 2014, 21:20 PM IST

Madrid: Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino warned Friday that rivals Real Madrid, third in the La Liga after three consecutive defeats, are still very much in the running for the title.

Real lost last Sunday`s El Clasico clash with Barcelona 4-3 before losing again 2-1 on Wednesday to Sevilla.

The Catalans followed up their win with a routine 3-0 victory over Celta Vigo in midweek.

Atletico Madrid lead the way with eight games remaining, a point clear of Barca and three ahead of Real.

"This gives the impression that it will go down to the wire, but between these three teams, always between the three," Martino told a press conference on Friday.

"For us, what has changed is that once again it`s down to ourselves, because we have to play against Atletico Madrid on the final day ... It`s an advantage having your fate in your hands, today two teams have: Atletico and Barcelona, but I wouldn`t rule out Real Madrid."

Before their derby at Espanyol on Saturday, the Argentine coach estimated that the Clasico win over Real Madrid could be "a turning point" for Barcelona who have been very inconsistent this season.

"In principle, it`s a victory that should put us in the right frame of mind," he said, adding that his group can cope even without goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who suffered a serious cruciate knee injury on Wednesday.

"We all took a knock," he said. "But this team has faced very difficult situations in recent years and here is one more. As always, the players will surely emerge stronger from this latest setback."